MIDEAST 203 - Sports and Games in the Middle East
Fall 2022, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Middle East Studies (MIDEAST)
Department: LSA Middle East Studies
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Requirements & Distribution:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


In modern discourse, "leaving politics out of sports" is a typical refrain. The history of sports in the Middle East, however, demonstrates that sports and games have regularly served political ends in addition to recreation for millennia and continue to do so today. This course looks at the history of sports and games in the Middle East to examine how entertainment and spectacle become arenas of warfare, gender and sexuality disparity, religious piety, social movement, diplomatic strategy, cultural heritage, discrimination, and history making.

This December, the biggest sporting event in the world, the FIFA World Cup will be hosted in Qatar despite protests from many quarters. Qatar is one of three Gulf states (along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) with questionable human rights records that have invested heavily in sports — especially big European football clubs — and have been accused of sportswashing — using the popular sports and soccer in particular to build positive worldwide reputations. From board games played by pharaohs, kings, and queens found in ancient tombs such as the Royal Game of Ur from ancient Mesopotamia or Senet from ancient Egypt to the popularity of Chess in medieval Islamic courts and literature to the leadership of Egyptian Ultras fan groups during the Arab Spring of 2011 to the 2007 formation and 2021 extraction of the Afghanistan women's national football team, sporting and games have been the locus of delight, community, terror, rebellion, and political intrigue throughout the Middle East.

Students in this class will explore these histories, play some games, analyze important historical and contemporary events through film and broadcast, and engage their own tactical brains in a series of optional assignments.


MIDEAST 203 - Sports and Games in the Middle East
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
Note: Meets-with HISTORY 231.001
002 (DIS)
 In Person
F 10:00AM - 11:00AM
Note: Meets-with HISTORY 231.002
003 (DIS)
 In Person
F 12:00PM - 1:00PM
Note: Meets-with HISTORY 231.003

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